As such, he received contract offers from several NHL teams after his Colorado College Tigers were eliminated from postseason contention in mid-March. In the end, it was the Flyers who landed the 6'3", 220-pound right winger, inking him to a deal that will begin in 2010-11.
"When it came down to it, I saw the Flyers as the best fit for my abilities," said Testwuide (pronounced TEST-weed). "It was a gut decision. They showed a lot of commitment to me, following me and checking on my progress. I knew they were very familiar with my game, my personality.
|Mike Testwuide completed his senior season at Colorado College with 21 goals in 36 games. (Casey B. Gibson/Colorado College) |
"I couldn't be happier with the way everything turned out, and I can't wait for next season and the opportunity to make the team."
Having played four full seasons at the collegiate level, Testwuide believes he has the maturity and polish necessary to challenge for an NHL roster spot right away.
And he isn't the only one.
“He’s going on 24," explained the Flyers director of hockey operations, Chris Pryor, "so we expect things coming off of this summer into next year. I would hope that in the near future he’ll be pushing to make a spot on the big team because of the things he brings to the table.”
The Flyers had coveted Testwuide for some time, sending multiple scouts out to Colorado to keep close tabs on the young forward. This gave the organization the upper hand in bidding for his services over other interested parties (which reportedly included the Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers, and Washington Capitals).
"Ross Fitzpatrick has been following him all this year, and Patrick Burke has seen him a lot in the last few years, so we know a lot about the kid," continued Pryor. "We like the fact that he’s a big guy, takes up a lot of space out there, and has good hands. He plays a pretty good game from the blue line down.
"We’re very excited to have him as a part of our organization.”
Typical of the "power forward" presence his body type suggests, Testwuide's game developed gradually over the span of his amateur career. Success did not come immediately; but as he grew into and added muscle to his large frame, things began to fall into place.
As a senior, the Vail, Colorado native served as team captain. He set a career high and finished second on the Tigers with 31 points (21g, 10a) and 24 penalty minutes in 36 games. In 134 total games at Colorado College, he registered 71 points (44g, 27a) and 100 penalty minutes.
Prior to joining the NCAA ranks, Testwuide played for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL. In 100 games over two seasons there, he notched a relatively modest 41 points (20g, 21a).
"I feel like I'm a completely different player than I was four, five years ago," he explained. "There's a number of reasons for it, but confidence is probably the biggest thing.
"I really progressed during college, especially physically. I'm so much bigger and stronger now than I was as a freshman. It took me a little while to find my game, to understand my strengths and limitations. I'm not just a finesse player anymore."
Testwuide's best self-described attribute - his ability to drive wide on opposing defenders - is indicative of his long, powerful skating stride. While not a particularly fast skater, his leg and upper body strength, and superior balance, help give off a different impression.
"I started skating when I was about five," he recalled. "But I had been on skis since... well, before I could walk. My dad worked for Vail Ski Resort, and I literally grew up skiing. I'm sure that helped make me a better skater, eventually.
"Growing up in Vail, outdoor sports were a way of life and skiing was my first love. It's still a huge passion of mine. But hockey, that's my game."
Not surprisingly, Testwuide was a big fan of the Colorado Avalanche, whom he watched win the Stanley Cup when he was nine (1996), and again at age 14 (2001).
"I guess I couldn't have picked a better time or place to be a kid obsessed with hockey," he mused. "My favorite player on those great teams was Peter Forsberg, because he was such a complete player. He was the player I idolized the most, and who I tried to pattern my game after."
It's all right there in front of me, and I know that I can't let up. I can't be satisfied with anything. I have to keep pushing." - Mike Testwuide
In 2004-05, Testwuide was invited to play for the U.S. Under-18 Select Team, for whom he tallied 97 points (46g, 51a) while gaining a wealth of international experience.
"It's been quite a ride for me, looking back," he said. "Everything, all of those experiences, have led up to this. Now I have a team and my goal is to make it to the NHL. It's all right there in front of me, and I know that I can't let up. I can't be satisfied with anything. I have to keep pushing.
"I can't wait for next year, and my opportunity to show what I can do."
Pryor and the rest of the Flyers brass are equally enthused.
"With these college guys, somebody like that is going to attract a lot of interest," Pryor said. "We were lucky to get it done."